Gov. Nathan Deal, elected in the aftermath of the Great Recession, is leaving office with Georgia in a much better place than he found it.
The question for Georgia voters, then, is who to perpetuate the momentum.
With seven Republican and two Democratic hats in the ring to replace him and the primary campaigns heading into the final stretch, Georgians are suffering a deluge of politicking. The key is to separate promise from propaganda.
Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is one of those who hopes to succeed Gov. Deal. He awards Deal an A-plus for his two terms, citing the facts that Georgia has been named the No. 1 state to do business for five consecutive years, that Deal has led the nation in criminal justice reform and that the outgoing governor has sought to reform failing public schools, among many other successes.
But while Cagle is correct to recognize Deal as the leader who made this state a better place, it’s also true that the lieutenant governor has sat at his right hand, been there every step of the way and deserves credit for the success Georgia is enjoying.
Cagle’s record of achievement has moved the needle, partnering with Deal to see the state grow by nearly 700,000 jobs and 40,000 businesses. Aggressive yet conservative, he led this year’s fight to cut state income tax rates.
Cagle has provided leadership on health care and targeting the opioid epidemic in Georgia, a life and death issue he has prioritized with the Georgia Health Care Reform Task Force.
His leadership has helped grow the movie industry here from $250 million in 2007 to nearly $10 billion this year. Cagle demonstrates a know-how to grow industries in Georgia and bring high-quality jobs for residents.
Raised by a single mother in rural Georgia, Cagle came from humble beginnings but rose to become a business and community leader in Gainesville. He was elected to the Georgia Senate in 1994 at the age of 28 and became the first Republican lieutenant governor in Georgia’s history in 2006 under then-governor and now U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
Cagle’s signature initiative has been the development of a college and career academy network where students can graduate high school with an associate degree or industry certification and be ready with skills to enter the workforce. He’s helped launch 46 such academies across the state and pledged to give every student access to one by 2020. The result is students are employable upon graduation and gain access to well-paying jobs while business and industry can hire from a skilled Georgian workforce.
Cagle has long been an advocate of school choice, championing charter schools, which hasn’t earned him the love of the public school lobby. But supporting school choice does not mean opposition to public schools, and Cagle has pledged to restructure the state’s stagnant education funding formula — an outdated, unfair redistribution of local tax dollars. Many governors have tried and failed to tackle this Gordian knot, but it is essential that the Quality Basic Education funding formula be reformed.
Recognizing the state must do something about its aging transportation infrastructure, he has led on transportation funding and will continue leading to alleviate traffic for businesses and families. As the only candidate in the race endorsed by the National Rifle Association, Georgians can rest assured that Second Amendment rights will be safe in a Cagle administration.
While in the Senate and as lieutenant governor, Cagle has also been a strong defender of Georgia’s sunshine laws, transparency and the public’s right to access information.
Other candidates have made attractive promises as to how they would govern, but Cagle has walked the walk. In Cagle is a leader who recognizes that the private sector can solve the problems and challenges in this state far more effectively than any government bureaucrat, and that one needn’t surrender one’s conservative values to have economic prosperity. He is the strong leader Georgia needs to continue moving this great state forward and deserves your vote to be the next governor of Georgia.